Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Eternal Search

It would be more than accurate to say that I have spent most of my adult life in search of the perfect jeans. I once owned a pair in high school (vintage levis that I got in the Village circa 1992), and I wore them until they were ripped and threadbare, less than practical apparel for those crisp Albany winters. Needless to say, they were reduced to cut-offs, and then a dust rag.

I haven’t found as good a fit since.

The reality is that after two children, life on a Philly block that housed over 7 restaurants, and a move to the suburbs that reduced my exercise to getting in and out of the car, those old jeans probably wouldn’t quite fit as well today anyway.

After I had my son, I decided to commit to reclaiming my shape and used Jenny Craig, Susan the Fitness Guru, and hours of squats while I tried to get my son to sleep (no east feat at 23 lbs) to do so. My reward? I convinced my husband that an appropriate incentive would be the perfect pair of jeans, no matter the style or price.

He acquiesced (before he realized how pricey good jeans can really be).

So, 9 months post-partum, I am close to where I want to be (minus some interesting stomach skin that now resembles a Sharpe puppy), and I do what any sensible woman would when she’s in need of good clothes and price is no object. You head to Barney’s, Bergdorf’s, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, or, my personal favorite, Nordstrom.

Nordstrom it was, and away I went with credit card in hand and husband crying from the driveway as I sped away.

The great thing about Nordstrom (and Lord & Taylor….RIP), is the sales people. No matter where you are, they always seem ready to offer advice that is always relevant and never condescending. For that reason, it is the best place to shop for shoes, bras, and, of course, jeans.

Since even I have an appreciation for budgets, I bypassed the uber expensive jeans and actually hit the Juniors / BP department for their collection of Seven jeans, Hudson, Miss Sixty, Theory, and Citizens of Humanity….among others.

I tried on everything.

Most interesting, the salesgirl not only was honest about what looked best, she also directed me to the best jeans for all day wear. Having spoken to a wealth of women about this, I know we all struggle with this.

Case in point: I have an awesome pair of jeans that look amazing for the first 20 minutes I wear them. However; after bending over, walking, and using the bathroom, I need to roll the waistband over like a Catholic school girl who disagrees with the nuns’ view of a good length. The use of Lycra in a lot of jeans to really flatter every form also causes them to lose shape way too quickly.

The Nordstrom salesgirl was most helpful in this respect, She actually told me that, with the pair of Sevens I was leaning towards, should be bought 2-3 sizes smaller because they stretch so much. I couldn’t believe it….nor could I breathe when I tried them on!

So, the winning pair was actually Citizens of Humanity, which are so flattering, comfortable, resilient, and, aside from needing to be hemmed about three inches…perfect.

As for the price? I will never tell….because (1) my husband still breaks out into a rash at the thought of it, and (2) it forces me to face the reality that I could have fed a small village with the price. Yikes.

If you too are in search of the perfect jeans, the best tips I can give are:

1) Expect to have them tailored. With designers making them in record lengths, go with a good fit, and have a tailor adjust their length. If you are willing to dish out the dough for the style and fit, invest in a good seamstress (most dry cleaners offer their services).
2) Go to a good department store. I love boutique shopping for finding unusual tops, shoes, and accessories, but jeans are often more expensive because they are not bought in such high quantities.
3) If you need to rationalize spending more (especially since Target, Kohls, and the like offer pretty close imitations), rationalize by chalking it up to your uniform. Think about how often you’d wear them and ask yourself what other items you’d use as frequently.
4) Avoid overly trendy ones with too much embellishment, fading, and ornate pockets…you don’t want to be forced to torch them after only one season.
5) Go alone or with girlfriends. Bringing the kids will force you to act too quickly, resulting in impulse buys that rarely work out. Go alone, or even better, bring an honest girlfriend.
6) And finally, when in doubt, don’t. If you are in search of the perfect jeans, don’t settle unless you are doing cartwheels in the dressing room (shout out to Sheryl for letting my do the round-off back handspring).

Best of luck and if your husband is having trouble coping with the bill, invite him to my house, where the group HOMAR (Husbands of Mothers Against the Recession) meets weekly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amy "Forgotten Password" Mahoney writes:
I have recently had an interesting denim experience...The Jeans Party. It was just like a Pampered Chef or Lia Sophia party, but instead of entrepreneurial moms peddling pretty/practical products it was these two thugs from Brooklyn with boxes containing over 500 pairs of jeans. It was out control. I met the hostess at Gymboree, and my playgroup and I chugged a bottle of wine and went to her house were over 50 young moms where ripping off clothes and trying on all different designer jeans. The good things about it? There is an army of friends and strangers to give you an honest opinion. Also, it is a cash operation so it reduces over-spending. The bad? Well, the whole thing seemed shady, and some of the women did not find any that fit (that is, too small) and they seemed a little sad. I ended up with a great pair of Joe's Jeans and 7 capris (I had not read Christine's fashion column yet about capris being out...oops). The jeans were $80.00 and the capris $60.00. A piece of advice if you are lucky enough to attend a jeans party: Try to remember to opt for the non-thong undies.